DC Museum Marathon: All About That (Air &) Space

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Because I work at an art museum, I find non-arts-based institutions–natural history and science museums, historic houses, museums of flight and technology–all the more exciting. It’s so much fun to explore the different ways in which objects and knowledge can be shared: whether you’re showing off a trilobite or a Titian, it’s still key to snag your audience’s attention and encourage them to look closely.

Plus, let’s be honest, I just love dinosaurs and space. Period. How could I pass up the opportunity, then, to visit DC’s Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and National Air and Space Museum?

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I’m not too into airplanes (except for the Golden Age of Flight and the history of trans-Pacific flights from the Mainland to Hawai’i–sorry, I know what I like!) so the Air & Space Museums bright atrium-style exhibition The Space Race was the main attraction for me. It’s a well-lit, awe-invoking installation…that’s also packed with school groups and bored parents who are apparently too old for space.

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Among the massive objects on display is a recreation of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project from 1975. I have to admit that the Soviet’s gorgeous green color choice is on point (sorry, Apollo).

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Unlike the Space Race exhibition, the Museum of Natural History’s exhibitions were incredibly difficult to photograph: natural history museums are notorious for their dark exhibitions, which create a sense of exotic ambience. Of course, the museum had one more factor working against it–the entire fossil hall was closed for a major reinstallation project. The highlight of that trip, for me, was seeing art objects that are nearly 30,000 years old–all of which have been conveniently digitized into 3D models on the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins’ website.

Still, Air and Space might just be the clear winner of the day: at least until the dinosaurs come back into play in 2019!

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